A role model for every young tennis player (with nerves of steel) has been born – Steve Johnson, a senior at USC. Carrying the weight of the whole championship on his shoulders, with the chance to become NCAA team national champions for the fourth year in a row, Johnson has really made a name for himself in the world of collegiate tennis.
As a five-time All American and Singles National Champion for two consecutive years, this kid just doesn’t stop no matter what the challenge. The Orange, California native must have eaten his fruits and vegetables as a child – going into his senior year of high school, he was the national champion in singles and doubles and he finished his college career with a record of 112 wins with only 21 losses. To add some icing to this already amazing cake, he went his senior year with a 32-0 record, finishing his college career with 72 consecutive wins. I don’t think he even remembers what it feels like to lose; all he does is win (*Cue the DJ Khaled song*).
The road to the championship game for Johnson was wrought with fallen trees and multiple potholes. By the time he reached the championship game against Kentucky’s Eric Quigley, he had already been through a veritable marathon, battling through six weeks of shin splints (which were quickly becoming a stress fracture). I can tell you from personal experience – it is difficult to just walk on shin splints. Throw in a pulled abdomen and food poisoning during 9 consecutive days of play…Johnson is a tennis-playing MACHINE!
With all of this, he only lost one set throughout the entire singles tournament. Johnson won in a 6-4 victory against Quigley. According to ESPN, when Quigley was asked later about Johnson’s injuries, he stated, “he was stunned by the accuracy of his opponent’s serve.” Quigley added he “…didn’t know Johnson was in pain, particularly when bending his back on a second serve”. Johnson definitely deserves this second singles title in a row, and I cannot fathom why anyone would disagree. He was able to partake in all four consecutive team national championships that they won including 2012.
Steve Johnson, I believe, should be included in the top ten on Sports Center and all over ESPN headlines. He is the epitome of a role model for student athletes. Do you agree?
Written by Guest Blogger, Stephen Brooks